Uncharted Magazine Sci-Fi & Fantasy 1st Chapter Prize - Uncharted
By Uncharted

Thank you to everyone who submitted this year! Please give us 8-10 weeks after contest closing to process the results. We can’t wait to share the winners with you.

We’re looking for dynamic and thrilling First Chapters! Can you write a first chapter that captivates your audience enough to make them want to keep reading? If the answer is yes, then we want to read your first chapter.

Uncharted Magazine publishes Fantasy Short Stories from fiction writers of any background or experience. We want stories of fantasy that make us hunger for new worlds, new biomes, new places we can explore through thrilling sensual details and human empathy. We want stories that thrill us, that make us feel alive, that awaken our desires to explore and go on adventures.

Guest judge Literary Agent CeCe Lyra will choose three winning stories from a shortlist. We’re excited to offer the winner of this prize $3000 and publication, while the 2nd and 3rd place winners will receive publication and $300 and $200, respectively along with publication.

Cecilia (CeCe) Lyra is an associate agent at PSLA representing adult fiction and non-fiction. She believes that stories are empathy-generating machines capable of offering connection through escapism. CeCe is particularly drawn to books centered around dysfunctional families, ethical or moral dilemmas, and power struggles. Stories that subtly weave in speculative and/or fantastical elements tied to our world’s social issues have a special place in her heart. As a mixed-race Latinx immigrant, CeCe is passionate about representing under or misrepresented voices and stories that contribute to a larger cultural conversation. CeCe will not read any stories where animals get hurt—she can’t handle it. CeCe is also a co-host of the podcast The Sh*t No One Tells You About Writing.


  • writers may submit 1 First Chapter of 1,001-5,000 words per entry. The first chapter and the novel must be unpublished. (full novel does not need to be completed)
  • First Chapter (fiction) only—5,000 word count maximum.
  • We only consider unpublished work for contests—we do not review reprints, including self-published work.
  • Simultaneous submissions are okay—please notify us and withdraw your entry if you find another home for your writing.
  • All entries will also be considered for publication in Uncharted Magazine.
  • Double-space your submission and use Times New Roman 12 pt font.
  • Please include a brief cover letter with your publication history (if applicable). Please mention any content warnings as necessary to protect our readers!
  • We only read work in English.
  • We do not read blind. The judge will read anonymously from the shortlist.
  • Note: To ensure the protection of our volunteer readers, and to keep Uncharted a safe space, please let us know in your cover letter if your work can be triggering in any way. This will have no bearing on your submission or a decision—we just want to ensure the best possible environment for our readers. Thank you for your understanding.


You may choose to receive editorial feedback on your piece. We will provide a global letter discussing the strengths of the writing and the recommended focus for revision. Our aim is to make our comments actionable and encouraging. These letters are written by editors and staff readers of Uncharted Magazine. A significant portion of the editorial letter fees goes to our feedback editor, according to the rates established by the EFA. Should your story win, no feedback will be offered and your fee will be refunded.


  • Q: What am I supposed to write in my cover letter?

A: Think of your cover letter as a brief author bio and what you would like posted on our site should your piece be selected for publication. Don’t overthink it, we just want to know a little about you! Most writers choose to include publication history or a little about the story that is being submitted. Note that you can include personal or identifying information in your cover letter.

  • Q: When can I expect to hear back about my story?

Regardless of acceptance or decline, you will hear back from us, we promise. You can expect to hear back within 8-12 weeks from the day you submit for this award.

Q: When will I hear back about my submission/the results of the contest?

A: Every submitter is notified of a decision, and we send out responses once a submission doesn’t advance to the next round. We’d also encourage you to follow us on social media, as we publicly announce winners and contest opportunities there.

Q: Are prologues acceptable?

A: You can absolutely submit a prologue along with the chapter, as long as the submission is under 5,000 words.

Q: What do you mean by “standalone”?

A: Standalone just means that it doesn’t have to be from a standalone novel since some are writing series.

Q: Do you accept submissions from writing teams?

A: Yes! However, you would need to designate one person as the submitter—or maybe create a joint Submittable account. As long as you both understand that you’d be splitting the prize if the submission was selected as one of the winners.

Q: Who retains the rights to my work, and will I be able to query my novel later?

A: We’re not able to speak for every publisher, but since we’re not publishing your work in its entirety, it should not be a problem going forward. Rights also revert back to the author after 90 days. If an opportunity came up for you to publish your work before the 90 days, we are happy to revert rights back to you sooner.

Why should I submit to Uncharted?

We are a new magazine for the new literary moment. Though we began in 2021, our roots actually go much further back. Our sister magazine, The Masters Review (http://www.mastersreview.com), began in 2009 and has been serving emerging writers of fiction ever since. Over the years, however, the TMR team noticed just how underserved writers of genre fiction are in the traditional literary magazine space, and thus the Uncharted dream began.

Uncharted aims to give a quality, modern, exceptional digital publication experience to our contributors and our audience. Our ultimate goal is to make an Uncharted Magazine publication credit be a powerful step forward in the careers of any of our contributors.

Come, we warmly invite you, join our community of contributors and commit to the work of being a professional writer!

Why do I have to use submittable?

Submittable has become the standard tool for magazines to organize and manage submissions. They have been around since 2010 and are a trustworthy place to handle the sensitive information involved with submissions.

Why is there a contest fee?

All of our budget is managed by our contests—this allows us to have our regular submissions be always open, always free, and always paid at professional rates! They also allow us to have industry-leading prizes and incredible judge partnerships.

We started Uncharted with the aim to offer the absolute best opportunities to genre writers—opportunities we saw being granted to the more traditional literary writer that so many digital and print magazines already serve. The contest fees enable our mission to level that playing field and to shine more and more bright light on incredible stories from SFF, Horror, and Mystery writers.

Please feel welcome and encouraged to submit for free (http://uncharted.submittable.com/submit) to our regular submissions as well, as often as you’d like!

How does the reading process work?

Every submission is evaluated first by our team of readers—all who have been vetted through a rigorous application process and trained according to the current understanding of bias and equity in literature.

Once our team of readers have discovered their favorites, they then mark them for the second round of reading, conducted by our editorial staff.

After this longlist has been processed, our editor, Tommy Dean, makes the final decision on the ten finalist stories that get sent to our Guest Judge. That Judge then chooses the winner and two runner ups.

This whole process takes about 12-16 weeks, as we take very seriously the privilege of reading our submitter’s hard-earned stories.